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Michael’s Travel Diary

Friday, 10 Jul 2009

Location: Sardinia, Italy

MapAfter another night of restless sleep on Monday night that was interrupted with many a mosquito squashing adventures, we rose early and headed out of the campsite. We doubled back up the coast to a beach that we’d driven past the previous day that had some signs of surf. I spent the morning body surfing while Charlotte finished reading a book on the beach. After a while we headed back to the car, grabbed a feed and started driving on some more along the northern coast of Sardinia before driving away from the coast for the first time since arriving in Sardinia. Our destination was a water park somewhere between Sorso and Sassari, but where exactly we weren’t sure. As such we spent quite a bit of time driving in circles trying to find it. Just as we’d given up looking for it we saw assign for it and headed down a dirt track between houses before finally finding the water park, seemingly dropped into the middle of nowhere, and with very poor signage.

To make matters worse, by the time we arrived and decided to pay to go in, we were informed that the park was only open for another hour before they shut for an hour long lunch break. This water park thing just wasn’t working for us, but we forked out and headed inside. The park wasn’t big at all, and given the last park I was at was Wild Wadi’s in Dubai, it was spectacularly unimpressive, but I’ve always been a fan of waterslides, so was going to enjoy it regardless. So after about an hour of dodging little kids running up wet stairs, picking my boardies out of my ass crack, and banging my body in the enclosed water slides, I was well and truly wet, exhausted and admittedly enjoying myself. But with the park shutting down for an hour, and it being just too hot to sit around waiting for it to open – not to mention too expensive for the hot-dogs and coke they were selling for lunch, we toweled off and continued the driving.

Our route to the north west corner of Sardinia took us through the massive ferry port town of Porto Torres, in which the town bypass took us along the harbour dockside where the lorries were loading the ships (go figure??) and then another half hour later we had arrived at Stintino, the last major town on the peninsula. We stopped here and had a pizza for lunch, overlooking the bay, watching the stray dogs wandering around lazily and listening to Daniel Merriweather’s “Red” on the radio station that they were playing in the restaurant.

After lunch we drove south to the major town of Alghero where we would be flying out of the following morning. As we hadn’t booked accommodation yet, and the guide books we were carrying weren’t particularly detailed in terms of maps, we decided to get there early rather than later and find a place to stay. The first couple of places we tried when we got into the town we booked out, so we started phoning the establishments in the guide books. Eventually we found a B&B called Mamajuana (strange name, I know) that had room and they would take us in. Then the fun began, trying to find the place.

As we followed what appeared to be a main road into town, we found ourselves driving along a port, heading to the Old Town, where Mamajuana was. At this point Charlie’s phone rings for the first time on the entire trip and it’s her agency offering her work. She’s talking to her agency, whilst driving, and I am getting extremely frustrated, trying to find this place and Charlie ignoring my directions because she on the phone. Needless to say I got angry and told her to pull over. Once the conversation was finished and we were OK to start driving again, we realised that there would be no parking in the Old Town, and decided to park in the port car-park, and walk up to the hotel. We doubled back, and drove along the port again, missing the turn into the car park, and again found ourselves doubling back once we’d reached the old town walls. The next time I pointed to a cyclist and told Charlie to turn where the cyclist was turning, seeing a driveway into the car park.

What I hadn’t realised was that it was an exit only, and that it would have required a 3 point turn to get the car to face in the opposite direction and headed into the car park. Apparently Charlie hadn’t realised that either, and instead of turning where the cyclist turned, she turned, and then followed him along the cycle path. The two of us reached fever pitch before Charlie pulled the car back onto the skillfully managing to not lose anything from underneath the FIAT Panda in the foot long drop from cycle path back onto the road. Another lap and we found the actual entrance, parked the car up and headed to the B&B.

To make matters worse, there was no-one there when we arrived, and upon calling again 20 minutes later, they told us they were on the way. I headed back to get our passports which we’d forgotten, and when I returned Charlie was inside with another couple who were being checked in while we were told our room was not yet ready – at 6pm. We weren’t particularly happy with the situation and told to come back in an hour, so we decided to calm our frayed nerves with a beer on the harbour. The second time we were luckier and able to check in. We were then informed that the breakfast part of the B&B would be served from a vending machine, and that our key was stocked with enough money for a croissant each and a juice. Noticing a distinct lack of supplies in the machine, I took all the pre-charged key would afford, and we had a shower before heading out for dinner.

Being our last night in Italy, we decided to have a nice dinner in a small court yard in the old town, with a nice bottle of wine, before wandering the streets at night with an ice cream for dessert. With another busy, hot day, and the added stress of the recent driving, we called it a night early, finally getting a reasonable sleep in the heat of the Italian summer.

The next morning we were up early to catch our flight home. We walked down to the harbor and grabbed the car and headed for the airport – again without maps. I had us driving in the wrong direction for about 15 minutes, before we turned around. As we drove back through town, the first petrol station we passed was shut and we figured it must have been too early for the Italians, even though it was already 7. The next one appeared shut too and we drove on. Before long we found ourselves at the airport and had to double back to find a petrol station to fill the car up. We took another turn off the road headed to the airport and found yet another closed petrol station. We continued driving in circles, looking for gas, before finally giving up and going to the airport for fear of missing our flight.

As we dropped the car off and it was being looked over, we explained that we were unable to fill the tank as everywhere we had tried the petrol stations had been closed. The man who was checking the car in proceeded to tick the box saying that we would owe the £18 fill-up fee, on top of the cost of the petrol. He checked the car over and said that there was no damage, but that we’d owe ¾ a tank of petrol and the filling fee. It was at this point that he told us that there was a national petrol station strike on this day and that none of the petrol stations in Sardinia were open. We argued the filling charge and he said it wasn’t up to him, but he made calls and would put a note to get it checked out. The cheek... in any case, the £18 was never charged to the credit card. After a rather flustering morning we checked in and stepped on the plane, anything but ready to head back to the cold and rainy weather of England.